NEW JERSEY – Legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) to ensure the ability of electric utility companies to trim branches and trees around power lines to prevent unnecessary outages has passed the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
“Whether it be a powerful snowstorm, torrential rain events, or damaging winds, we’ve experienced many disruptive storms over the past decade that have left numerous customers without power for extended periods,” Oroho said. “Downed trees and overgrown shrubs near power lines are often to blame for these widespread outages. Power line maintenance is a critical issue that must be addressed to help protect the public’s safety and general welfare during destructive weather events.”
Oroho’s bipartisan legislation, S-434, would authorize an electric public utility to use all reasonable, available methods to maintain and remove hazardous vegetation. It would also establish a municipal program to develop effective strategies to implement the provisions of the bill.
Just last month, the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias left more than 1.4 million homeowners and businesses without power for up to a week. In response, NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) President Joe Fiordaliso emphasized that the storm renewed the importance of clearing vegetation around power lines to cut down on outages caused by fallen trees and branches saying “vegetation management is extremely important in maintaining a strong energy system within the state.”
“I agree with the BPU that the State must take all available steps to keep the power on during weather emergencies in order to keep people safe and in touch,” Oroho said. “Removing some of the bureaucracy will help utility companies to engage in the preventative maintenance that’s needed to guarantee access to lifesaving utilities regardless of the elements.”